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All Together for the Camera: 150 Years of Group Photographs

Few visual cues say “Supreme Court” better than its group photograph, the first of which was taken in 1867. Although this 150-year old custom occurred infrequently in the beginning, it has since become one of the Court’s most popular and enduring traditions. For the first 75 years the Justices would gather at studios of various photographers around Washington, D.C. and during this time they gradually settled on ground rules such as a seating arrangement based on seniority, and posing only once after a change in membership. For the past 75 years, the group photograph has been taken in the Supreme Court Building.

This exhibit features the work of 19 different photographers and studios, and traces the development of the group photograph from the first in 1867 to the most recent, taken in June 2017.

The Salmon P. Chase Court by Alexander Gardner, March 1867
The Salmon P. Chase Court by Alexander Gardner, March 1867
The first group photograph taken of the Justices dressed in the judicial robes also included Clerk of the Court D.W. Middleton (standing at left).
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States


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